Pc Harper murder trial hears 999 call of stolen quad bike owner
The owner of a high-end quad bike snatched by Pc Andrew Harper’s alleged killers gave a dramatic account of the raid from his bedroom, telling a 999 operator: “It’s not going to turn out well for me.”
Peter Wallis had alerted police after young men in masks and carrying wooden weapons made off with his £10,000 bike under cover of darkness on August 15 last year, the Old Bailey heard.
When Pc Harper tried to apprehend the thieves, he became entangled in a crane strap attached to their Seat Toledo and was dragged for more than a mile along country lanes, jurors have heard.
The Seat driver Henry Long and two 17-year-old boys have admitted plotting to steal the bike but denied Pc Harper’s murder.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, Mr Wallis said he bought the quad bike last April last year and kept it at the house he was renovating in Stanford Dingley, near Reading in Berkshire.
He told jurors how he had seen off the masked raiders earlier in the day by repeatedly asking them: “Can I help you, gentlemen?”
He was met with “eyeballing accompanied by a ‘yeah’ and a gesture”, which he found “intimidatory”, he said.
Mr Wallis said it was a “testing” encounter and the driver of the car was “aggressive” but he did not call police then.
When the men returned with lights off just after 11pm, Mr Wallis said he was already feeling nervous and had not been sleeping.
He told jurors: “I quite rightly assumed something was afoot.
“I kneeled on my bed and was peering out of the window and had a clear view of what was coming down the hill.
“In the moonlight I could see a metal object slowly coming down, just meeting the edge of my drive.
“It was the front half of a silver car with no lights on.
“I had a rough idea of where my phone was. I rummaged and found it.”
In a 999 call played in court, Mr Wallis told the operator: “I have got four masked men outside my house. They’ve got weapons.
“They came round earlier and now they are on my property. They are all masked….
“I think they are breaking into my garage to nick my stuff.
“I presume they know I’m in here.”
He went on: “They are stealing my quad bike. I’m going out there now. I’m going out there now.”
When the operator urged him not to, the distressed homeowner said: “I don’t care. I have got to protect that bike.
“Please send someone. I’m going out there. Will you send someone or not?”
Told officers were on their way and urged again not to go, Mr Wallis said: “There’s all sorts of bits of wood out there. They are not taking my damn bike.
“F*** me, they’ve already taken it.”
He said: “It’s not going to turn out well for me. I hope someone is on the way.”
He described to the operator how the thieves got out a tow rope and dragged the quad bike away.
Earlier on August 15, the Seat was spotted around the village around the time of the first unsuccessful attempt to steal the bike, the court heard.
Yvonne Millam was driving home on Cock Lane when she came across a dented car she initially thought had been involved in an accident.
She said in a statement read to court that she noticed the car’s number plate was covered by “royal blue tape”.
She said: “They were up to no good due to the number plate being covered.
“I noticed all the people in the car were wearing balaclavas when I looked across.
“The driver was staring right at me.
“I felt instantly intimidated and scared.”
Thomas Gunter was drinking a pint with friends outside the Bull Inn on Cock Lane when he spotted a Seat which drove past three times with music blaring.
He stated: “I recall what I thought was a gold coloured Seat drive past approximately three times.”
He said it was unusual and his friends were “surprised” because the occupants gave them a “weird look”.
“What struck me was the car was playing very loud music and it was driving very quickly,” he said in a statement.
Ann Edmonds was walking through Stanford Dingley when she saw a car that looked “out of place”.
“There were definitely three males in the car, possibly there could have been four.”
She said one of the teenagers looked “a bit dirty and rough”, adding: “It was out of place, a bit odd, and I felt the male staring at me.”
Long, from Mortimer, Reading, has admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to steal the quad bike but has denied murder, along with two 17-year-old youths.
The youths, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, have denied murder and manslaughter but have pleaded guilty to the plot to steal the quad bike.